Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Abundance

Church Door

I smell old-lady cologne, a heady bouquet of cloying drug-store plastic flowers. I don't know why the old ladies all seem to smell the same, and why they love to apply it in such obnoxious quantity. Maybe I'll do it to, when my olfactory nerves have been shot from 80 years of too many roses and too much shit. Its all over my front, my neck, my shirt, perhaps even my face. I know who the culprit is, A*, who loudly told the story of the Halloween cheese sticks over dinner in the Parish Hall of the Flip Flop Episcopalian Church. I am not complaining, though.

I had been moping around Flip Flop today. I didn't have any work to do. As I tooled around taking care of critical errands like paying my whopping 50 cent fine at the library and finding out if I was eligible for traffic school at the Court House (I wasn't) I had the time to notice the things and people my busy gaze usually glosses over. Plus I was riding my new old made-in-England Raleigh. I love it because it allows me to sit erect, but its transmission is shot, so I had to do all my pedaling in the highest gear, which means I go very slowly down the street in a very dignified manner. I felt like an upright British woman on her way to the Ladies Overseas Aide Society Meeting. At the same time, I was travelling in the company of all the bums and derelicts with their cranky bikes, slowly making our way across town to the next free meal. I imagined a special kinship, we were all slightly bored, disgruntled, and with far too much time on our hands. We didn't have the fixed gaze of someone who was expected anywhere important.

After paying my debt to the library, I wandered aimlessly through the Farmer's Market, sampling the fruit and at the same time trying to avoid the political canvasers. I spent some time with the drumming hippies. I saw a young mother trying to point out the "goddess" graffiti to her three year old son, who could have cared less. I left after I started to get a headache from the incense. As I was wandering away from the melee, I noticed a sign on the Episcopalian Church advertising a "praise and prayer" gathering that was starting in five minutes. I went and it was delightful. We sang "negro spirituals" from the African American Hymnal (they pronounced Gilead like "jill-ead") in a sanctuary lit by stained glass windows dedicated to Flip Floppers who lived and died a hundred years ago. The liturgy was sprinkled with phrases like "Father Mother God" and non-gender-specific nouns. At the end of the service, everyone shook my hand and then invited me to dinner. At the Parish Hall, everyone wanted to talk to me and give me food. When I left, they all gave me hugs, which is why I now smell like old lady perfume, which is not such a bad smell, after all.

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